Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow let’s go into this city, and spend a year there, trade, and make a profit.” Whereas you don’t know what your life will be like tomorrow. For what is your life? For you are a vapor that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. (James 4:13-14 WEB)
I like Christmas parties. They usually are festive, fun and have lots of tasty food available. When it comes to departmental work holiday celebrations it’s one of those chances to see a colleague’s family and enjoy some fellowship not related to a work project. The IT department often held an evening of celebration with food, fun and an expression of thanks from our supervisor. Many times, the gathering was in the supervisor’s home.
It’s an interesting prospect when spending time in your boss’s home. You get a glimpse of their private life. You learn something of the things they enjoy not related to the ministry. Looking at family pictures, on the wall or in frames, can be fun and at times the source of some interesting stories. Checking out their books gives insights into their penchant for fiction or nonfiction and in the case of ministry their favorite theologians and preachers. Then there is the quick perusal of the music library, assuming they still have CDs or records and haven’t gone entirely digital, these things tell you a lot about your hosts and what decade impacted them the most.
A few years ago, we attended the IT Department Christmas Party at our boss’s home. It was a wonderful time. We laughed, we ate, we were entertained by one another. The children present provided an additional layer of fun and excitement as we chatted or played with available toys. Our boss read his annual poem about each one of the department and their unique skills expressed in a unique and humorous way. When the evening was winding down Beth and I packed the car.
We brought meatballs to the party in a crock pot. This made things easy to heat up for the evening. There weren’t many left in the pot by the time we departed. I carefully placed the cock pot in the trunk surrounded by a few items. It was almost empty so the center of gravity was low on the device. Things looked good, we were bundled in our winter coats and headed out of the neighborhood.
Pulling out onto the main road can sometimes be tricky. There is a lot of traffic even at night in December. After waiting and appropriate amount of time for the stream of cars to whisk by I saw my chance and pulled across the road turning left toward home. Perhaps I accelerated a little faster than I anticipated. As we completed the arc to enter the lane we heard a tell-tale thump from the rear of the car. Oh no! At the first chance, I pulled into a side road on the right and stopped the car.
Cautiously I moved to the back of the car and opened the trunk lid. I couldn’t see a thing. Of course not! It was dark outside and there’s no light in the trunk. I pulled out my cell phone and clicked on the flashlight. That’s when I saw the carnage. There were meatballs everywhere covered in the requisite red sauce. The remnants of unconsumed sauce were oozing out of the pot across the trunk. Some meatballs were intact, having rolled clear of the pot, while others apparently were trapped with other trunk objects and smashed or sliced into meatball oblivion. It was not a pretty site. I up righted the pot and corralled the wayward contents as best I could back to its still hot embrace. It would be a long time, with lots of cleaning, before the trunk would be restored to a non-Italian food condition.
As Christians, we sometimes put things away carefully hoping they’ll make the trip through the rest of our life. But then there’s an unexpected turn in life and things start rattling around and making a mess. We corral the pieces we can reach in a futile attempt to put them back where we had them. They never seem to fit back in their original packing.
I’m glad God doesn’t have this problem. He knows where everything fits and how to keep it in place in our life. If I can remember he’s the one in control, then I can put all the pieces in his hand. Once he has packed them where they belong, they stay put. I think that is a better way.